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The 2021 RAV4 Prime is the plug-in hybrid version of the RAV4. While most of it is the same as the standard RAV4 there is clearly a difference in the powertrain.
The RAV4 Prime is powered by Toyota’s 2.5-liter inline 4 and three motors, two up front and one in the rear, giving all RAV4 Prime’s all-wheel drive.That engine/motor combination also gets the Prime 302 combine horsepower.
This is the second-fastest Toyota in the lineup after the Supra. Can you feel it when you accelerate? Er, yes you can! The power mates to a CVT, which delivers power in adequate fashion. There’s not the ability to one-pedal drive, but there are paddle shifters here to decelerate or when descending a hill will help with battery regen.
Because this is a plug-in hybrid you can operate the RAV4 Prime on pure EV power. That pure EV range here is estimated at 42 miles, which if you’re commuting doesn’t take you far from home, that’s a lot of miles without filling up the gas tank. One of our editors squeezed 46 miles out of it.
Toyota does a nice job balancing the brakes between regenerative braking and actual real hydraulic brake feel. Aside from a grabby bite at the top of the pedal, the brakes feel pretty normal. Electric-assist power steering has a nice weight and feels precise. No dead spots. So objectively effective.
Overall the RAV4 Prime drives much like the hybrid RAV4. It feels powerful but in a seamless way. There’s nothing clunky about all of the parts working in concert together. And with addend noise damping materials the ride in the cabin is quiet and comfortable.
Other touches that you can option in your RAV4 Prime include a full-color head-up display, SofTex seats (no leather available on the Prime at all), a 9-inch touchscreen, and a height-adjustable power liftgate.
The RAV4 Prime still gets Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Amazon Alexa standard, on both SE and XSE trim levels that are available, as well as Toyota Safety Sense, Toyota’s suite of driver assistance features that includes blind-spot monitoring and lane-departure alerts among other goodies.
From the outside the only way to tell this is a Prime is front and rear gloss black bumpers, (say that five times fast) a slightly different grille that’s painted, and a front lower spoiler. Higher XSE models get two-tone paint and 19-inch wheels.
Pricing for the base SE starts around $38,100. The higher XSE jumps up to around $41,430 including destination.
The EPA rates the RAV4 Prime well. (40 hwy/36 city; 94 MPGe)
Making the Prime even more interesting, Toyota claims they’re only selling 5,000 of these here in the US. So this might become something of a unicorn.
If you’re looking for a solid compact SUV with an alternative powertrain that’s only .7 seconds slower to 60 miles an hour than the 4-cylinder Supra, well, the RAV4 Prime should definitely be on your list.
00:00 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime
0:27 Hybrid Powertrain
1:18 Electric Range
1:43 Driving Feel
3:37 Fuel Economy
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